Ah, Christmastime! It’s gloomy, it’s cold, and somewhere, someone is washing down a glass of scotch in a dimly-lit bar, as a jukebox plays Judy Garland's “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”
What most people don’t realize, is that the holiday standard—from MGM's 1944 Vincent Minnelli-directed Technicolor musical, Meet Me in St. Louis—was originally even more morbid. Too melancholic for Judy..? Well, you just know it must've been pretty morose. But really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about?
You see, the lyric that we know as "Let your heart be light / Next year all our troubles will be out of sight" was originally penned as "It may be your last / Next year we may all be living in the past." That is, until Judy put the brakes on, asking writers Hugh Martin and Ralph Blaine to make it a bit less lugubrious; declaring "'If I sing that to that sweet little Margaret O'Brien, they'll think I'm a monster!"
Please remember, as you view the video (above), and watch that scene of Judy singing to Margaret O'Brien—hopefully with some Kleenex, nearby—that these are the reworked, less depressing lyrics. Don't get me wrong. Considering that when Garland performed "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" at the Hollywood Canteen, during WWII, it famously brought the soldiers to tears, it's safe to say that these not-as-sad lyrics still pack quite an emotional wallop. [See the full lyrics, below.]
For all the deets behind the various versions of the song—the intended original, Garland's, Sinatra's, The Pretenders', and even Twisted Sister's—read Chris Willman’s witty and informative article, as it ran in Entertainment Weekly, more than a decade ago, by clicking on the link, below. It’s just a little nugget of Christmas joy that I'm delighted to share with y'all. Consider it my part in making your yuletide just a little bit gayer!
In the words of ‘Dorleen’ [as portrayed by the fabulous Parker Posey] on Will & Grace, “It's dark. It's glam. It's sad. It's Christmas.”
“There’s Something About Merry” by Chris Willman
Entertainment Weekly – December 22, 2006
Click HERE to read article
Get into it!
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"
Composer: Hugh Martin; Lyricist: Ralph Blane (1943)
from the album Meet Me in St. Louis (Decca Records, 1944)
introduced by Judy Garland in Meet Me In St. Louis (MGM, 1944)